WHAT IS LUXURY?

The Reserve talks to eight of the world’s leading luxury brands to find out…

Kenneth Law
Country Head, Banyan Tree

The Banyan Tree’s first hotel was in Phuket, Thailand and the brand now has properties across the world including hotels in Mexico, Vietnam and the Maldives. The next two years will see heavy expansion into China. Kenneth’s job is to drive outbound travel from Hong Kong and South China to Angsana and Banyan Tree properties globally.

What is the definition of luxury in travel?

Our philosophy is based on providing a place for rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul. Also, each property is designed to fit into its natural surroundings, using indigenous materials as far as possible and reflecting the landscape.

How does the Asian market differ from elsewhere in travel preferences?

There are a myriad of travel preferences but most have a common theme – dining. At least one meal a day has to be familiar. Our chefs work hard to deliver that familiarity on a daily basis especially for breakfast where we have added Chinese and Cantonese favourites to our regular menus.

Why do people value the BanyanTree above other luxury hotel brands?

I think the destination comes before which hotel or resort operates there. The Banyan Tree and Angsana operate in very exciting destinations. Banyan Tree Lijiang, China, is a good example of how we saw potential in a destination and enhanced it with evocative experiences. There are those who cherish a place so much that they invest in a second home, such as our Banyan Tree Residences located in Phuket, Lijiang, Bintan, or Seychelles.

What is your own idea of luxury?

To me, quality time with those you love most is priceless. Luxury in our business, however, is mostly about taking home fond memories.

Is there a luxury that money can’t buy?

Good health. I believe that only you can be in control of your destiny. At 46, I am blessed to be playing soccer on a weekly basis against chaps almost half my age. I also keep a rather routine yoga and walking programme.

What is the most luxurious holiday you’ve ever been on?

My favourite so far was 10 days of exploring various islands of the Maldives. I did a dive off the reefs of Angsana Ihuru, travelled by seaplane to play beach soccer with the locals at Angsana Velavaru, and ended the trip with a couple of spa-infused days at the InOcean Villas.

And your favourite luxury in Hong Kong?

The city’s effervescent dining and entertainment scenes offer a myriad of luxurious experiences.

Luxury in our business is mostly about taking home fond memories

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Perry Oosting
President of Vertu

Phone began in 1998 but it wasn’t until 2002 that the first model was unveiled to the public in Paris. The brand has since gone on to sell over 300,000 phones with prices starting at around HK$50,000 and rising to more than HK$100,000 for the most exclusive models. As Millionaireasia went to press, private equity firm EQT VI had agreed terms to acquire the brand from Nokia. Perry held positions at Gucci, Prada and Bulgari before becoming CEO of Vertu.

What is your personal idea of luxury?

To me luxury is all about intrinsic value. It’s not about the price but the value of what has gone into the experience. In many respects time is the ultimate luxury.

Why do customers feel the need for luxury in something so functional as a phone?

A phone is really the ultimate accessory. It is by your side at all hours of the day. Those who take pride in their belongings and have an appreciation for craftsmanship and design enjoy the experience of owning a Vertu phone. Beyond that, the most significant differentiator which truly makes Vertu stand out is that our concierge service is an integral part of the customer’s handset.

Are luxury goods becoming more commonplace?

The definition of luxury is most definitely changing, while the notion of accessibility is also shifting in this modern age which is geared predominantly by technological advancements. E-commerce is the driving force behind this major shift. Bricks and mortar stores are no longer the only medium of selling luxury items. Customers are aware that their luxury brands of choice are selling their products online thus making the consumption of luxury easier and more available no matter where the customer is based.

What do you consider to be your everyday luxuries?

My A Lange & Söhne watch, my handmade Church’s Shoes which are the embodiment of luxurious footwear, my Mont Blanc Meisterstück Le Grand Platinum Pen. Also my Zegna suits. I have a solid-blue super-600 wool three-button suit. In a suit you’re always ‘dressed.’ I seldom wear a tie. I wear only Gucci shirts because they are a slim fit. It keeps things simple. It’s probably influenced a bit by Tom Ford, who only wears white shirts.

What is your favourite luxury hotel?

The L’Andana Hotel in Tuscany. Whenever I need to stay in a hotel in Italy, this is my hotel of choice. It’s small, intimate and very private. One of my joys in life is discovering treasured places to eat and L’Andana never disappoints. The Trattoria Tuscana, set in the grounds of the hotel is overseen by world-famous chef Alain Ducasse and serves up the most delicious traditional Mediterranean dishes using fresh, local produce.

The luxury of time is something precious and in a sense money cannot buy time

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Suggested Price: HK 3 Million

Fawaz Gruosi
Founder and owner of De Grisogono

Italian-born Fawaz Gruosi opened the first de Grisogono boutique in Geneva back in 1993. Three years later he bought black diamonds back from oblivion into the height of fashion with an entire jewllery collection using the rare stone. This alone sealed the success of the brand, which he had started without any commercial strategy. Today, the brand owns 16 boutiques and is a huge hit among the world’s A-listers.

What is the most extravagant watch that de Grisogono has ever produced?

I strive for creativity and perfection in all my products. But I suppose the Meccanico dG can be considered extravagant. [The world’s first mechanical watch with a dual analogue and mechanical digital display costs around HK$2.3m].

How have customer demands changed over the last decade?

There are definitely more brands out there so they have more to choose from. Customers also have easier access to the luxury world.

How does the Asian market differ from elsewhere?

I am not an expert on this but my feeling is that the Asian market is under transformation right now and people are becoming more sophisticated. I always recall being very impressed by the Hong Kong people – they are very stylish, sometimes even more so than here in Europe. I imagine that people in mainland China are looking into what the Hong Kong people are wearing and buying

What about their taste in watches specifically?

On my last trip to Hong Kong, I noticed more women wearing bigger and complicated watches, and men choosing much more stylish watches. Asian women have a smaller frame but this doesn’t mean that their style needs to be small as well. It can be proportionally larger. I see some changes here but let’s wait and see how this evolves.

 How does Hong Kong’s idea of luxury differ from other cities?

I think due to the size of Hong Kong, luxury is related to space, just like in Japan.

Is there a luxury that money can’t buy?

Love and good health.

What is the most luxurious holiday you’ve ever been on?

Just taking a holiday for me is rare and a luxury in itself!

And your favourite luxury only available in Hong Kong?

I enjoy good food and wine in many places around the world, especially in Hong Kong. I love meeting old friends there as well.

I always recall being very impressed by the Hong Kong people -they are very stylish 

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Gordon Hui
Managing Director of Sunseeker Asia

Sunseeker is arguably the preferred yachting brand of the super rich, a regular fixture in James Bond films, famed for their film star appeal, sleek design and luxurious interiors. Gordon Hui was born in Hong Kong, then moved to the UK to study architecture. As a customer of Sunseeker himself, he was approached to represent the brand in Asia, and launched Sunseeker Asia in 2003.

What is the most extravagant boat that Sunseeker has ever produced?

The Sunseeker 40-metre yacht. It’s ultra spacious and has accommodation for up to 12 guests. There are optionals like automated balconies for the forward master suite and the main deck. We’ve also worked with designers on customising interiors.

How have customer demands changed over the last decade?

They haven’t really. Of course there is more technical stuff available now. Luxuries like stabilisers we had ten years ago anyway, though we didn’t have balconies back then.

How does the Asian market differ from elsewhere in their boat preferences?

The Asian market prioritises good entertaining and dining areas – they prefer round tables whereas the Western market prefers rectangles. And they like brighter lighting. Karaoke machines are popular and satellite TV for financial news. They also request good stabilisers for sea sickness.

What is your own idea of luxury?

I don’t actually know! Lying in bed watching TV. Or out on the boat sunbathing.

What do you consider your everyday luxuries?

Nothing material. It’s more about having the luxury of a consistent routine, no surprises. I like to have everything running smoothly. Not being stressed is a huge luxury.

What is the most luxurious holiday you’ve ever been on?

Chartering boats in Europe. My favourite places are the South of France, Sardinia, Corsica and the Greek islands.

How does Asia’s idea of luxury differ from other cities?

Lots of Asians look for material things and forget about other more emotional stuff.

What is the most money you have spent on one item?

My home in Repulse Bay.

And your favourite luxury in Hong Kong?

I can’t really say dining as I love very simple food which is always the cheapest! But I do enjoy sailing my boat [The Predator] in Hong Kong.

 I like to have everything running smoothly. Not being stressed is a huge luxury

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Paul Harris
Regional Director, Asia Pacific for Rolls-Royce

Created by car dealer Charles Rolls and engineer Henry Royce, Rolls-Royce broke the mould for craftsmanship back in 1904.Paul Harris has 25 years of experience at the BMW Group (which took over the brand in 1998) and leads the business from his offices in Singapore.

What is the most extravagant request that Rolls-Royce has ever received?

We get very unique paint requests and even though we say that there are 44,000 types of paints at Rolls-Royce, in reality it is a lot more. Mr. Michael Fux, a customer in America, requested a pearlescent paint colour inspired by a flower he had spotted in California. The resulting shade was named Fux Deep Purple and is now kept at Goodwood for his exclusive use.

How have customer demand changed over the last decade?

Customers are more adventurous and open to try bespoke commissioning. Bespoke is not just limited to the aesthetics of the car. We also allow customers to commission items to complement their lifestyles, such as a Rolls-Royce bespoke picnic set or champagne glassware.

What makes Rolls-Royce different from other luxury car brands?

Rolls-Royce is the pinnacle of the automotive industry. We pride ourselves on our tradition, our fine craftsmanship and engineering. Every Rolls-Royce is handbuilt in Goodwood and 80% of the cars sold since the company started 108 years ago are still running today. Rolls-Royce Bespoke is also the pinnacle of any offered personalisation programs in the automotive field. Our customers do not just choose from a list of options in a catalogue but they start on a blank sheet of paper and determine what they would like to have on their cars.

What is your personal idea of luxury?

Luxury is the ability to have things the way you like them to be, for example a property that reflects your character. It is the ultimate expression of individuality.

What do you consider your everyday luxuries?

I think that in this time and day, people tend to take technology for granted. It is a luxury to be constantly connected to the rest of the world. I can receive emails no matter which country I am in and when I’m travelling, I can always give a call back home to speak to my family or see them via video conferencing.

How does Hong Kong’s idea of luxury differ from other cities?

Hong Kong has been enjoying the returns of a resilient economy and the people are either well-travelled or they have access to see what’s going on in other parts of the world. It is a mature market comparatively to the growing market in mainland China. Aesthetically and functionally, customers are more open to bold ideas and have no boundaries for imagination.

We delight in bringing new, exclusive designs to our customers in Asia

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Rudy Paoli
Managing Director of Global Reserve Diageo

Diageo was created in 1997, though many of its brands have a much longer history. Rudy Paoli heads up Diageo Reserve, the brand’s luxury division, which looks after the likes of Johnnie Walker Blue, Tanqueray gin and Ciroc vodka.

What is the definition of luxury in the world of spirits?

Luxury spirits are about authenticity, craftsmanship and provenance, which transcend generations, fashion and eras. They surpass others in the same category in terms of the experience they provide, in quality and in taste.

What is the most expensive product in the Diageo portfolio?

John Walker & Sons, Scotch Whisky Distillers By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen, created a limited edition of 60 crystal decanters of Diamond Jubilee Blended Scotch Whisky. These editions are being offered for individual sale at £100,000 (HK$1.2m) each. Profits from the sales will be donated to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), to enable traditional craftsmanship to flourish.

Have your customer demands changed in recent years?

Luxury consumers are increasingly interested in the background of their purchases. A deeper experience and greater knowledge enhances their interaction with brands and builds long-term loyalty.

How does Asia’s idea of luxury differ from the western world’s?

The Asian idea of a luxury spirit is one that says something about them, it relates to the person and their status. Luxury consumers also tend to be younger than their global counterparts and so a key motivation is for personal indulgence and to reward themselves for success. Western purchases are made on a more emotional level with a higher value on the creative and aesthetic value of an object.

 Does luxury in alcohol surpass the drink itself?

Yes. There must be an experience attached. From the moment that you are served there is an interaction that occurs between customer and bartender, a give and take of knowledge being imparted where theatre and ritual are created. Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS invests in the finest bartenders around the world. To date, we have trained 15,000 of the best, educating them in the understanding of fine spirits and inspiring them to push the boundaries of mixology.

What is the most money you have spent on one item and what was it?

Not the most expensive, but the most treasured gift I have bought was a bottle of The John Walker – a gift for my father’s birthday.

And your favourite luxury only available in Hong Kong?

Enjoying the view of the iconic Hong Kong skyline from Ozone at the Ritz-Carlton while sharing a perfect serve of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

 Luxury consumers are increasingly interested in the background of their purchases

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Kamla Hiranand
Founder of Kaprice 

Famed for their colourful kaftans, shawls and handbags, Kaprice appeals to customers from across the globe looking to make a superior style statement.

What is the most extravagant piece of clothing you have ever created?

One of my most notable pieces is a hand-painted kaftan with precious stones and crystal embellishments. Over the years I’ve seen my kaftans worn by celebrities and elite worldwide. That in itself is proof of extravagance.

What do you consider to be the ultimate luxury when it comes to fashion?

Many people consider luxury as all bling. I think luxury is more than that. Being able to do what you love the most is luxury. Being able to afford anything you fancy is luxury. And yet sometimes luxury comes from the most basic elements, the materials that were used, the amount of effort put into each piece or the inspiration behind the creation of the piece.

Do you think people’s perception of luxury has changed in recent years?

People change, tastes change, perceptions change. What was once considered luxurious 10, 20, 30 years ago may not be as luxurious now anymore. For example, in the olden times jewellery pieces like pearls were once largely reserved for kings and queens, royalty. Now jewellery in general has become more accessible.

What do you consider your everyday luxuries?

The luxuries that I seldom leave my house without include a large bag created by one of my favourite designers. I also consider it a luxury to wake up every morning doing what I love the most, designing new collections. It’s a luxury that Kaprice is a luxury brand!

What is the best luxury that money can’t buy?

In today’s stressful world, happiness is the most desired luxury that cannot be bought by money. The idea of happiness differs for each individual, and everyone is capable of being happy, whether or not money is involved. The feeling I get from designing kaftans, handbags and jewellery – that’s happiness for me. Finding humour in certain situations can be a happy experience too.

What is the most money you have spent on one item and what was it?

I bought a rare piece of Moghul Jewelry for my daughter Priya.

What is the most luxurious holiday you’ve ever been on?

There’s really many to mention but I always enjoy touring Europe every summer to go shopping. Recently my team and I went to Monaco during the Grand Prix season to participate in a series of high profile events including Fashion Week Cannes. We also exhibited at the Omega Yacht, one of the largest yachts in the port of Monaco. That particular trip wasn’t actually a holiday but it was such a luxurious experience for the Kaprice team.

And your favourite luxury in Hong Kong?

Definitely spa pampering.

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Nanta Tangudtaisak
Founder, Anyallerie

French-Thai designer Nanta’s love of precious jewels stemmed from admiring her mother’s jewellery creations as she grew up. She launched Anyallerie in 2009, using elements of the words anyamani in Thai and joaillerie in French – both of which mean jewellery. Anyallerie was recently invited to create a new collection exclusively for Lane Crawford – the Cherry Blossom Collection, available now.

What is your idea of luxury?

Luxury is being able to experience something that makes you feel good inside; whether it is a sense of accomplishment, happiness, excitement or peace.

What do you consider to be the ultimate luxury when it comes to jewellery?

Just being able to wear something you appreciate aesthetically as an art form and that makes you feel beautiful when wearing it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big diamond.

What is the most extravagant piece of jewellery you have ever created?

A cuff with two intertwined butterflies. The piece is set with over 15 carats of gradiating colors of white and champagne diamonds. I wore it on my wedding day.

How did you tailor your exclusive Lane Crawford collection to the HK market?

Hong Kong women tend to be quite feminine but they also like to own something unique. Therefore I’ve created a collection featuring delicate Cherry Blossoms and used a wood grain texture effect on the gold giving each piece its own unique identity.

How does Hong Kong’s perception of luxury differ from other cities?

Since Hong Kong is a dense cosmopolitan city, space and privacy are highly valued luxuries. This is taken for granted in other cities where space is more abundant.

 What is the most money you have spent on one item and what was it?

My condominium at The Met in Bangkok. In my opinion, it is one of the most architecturally distinct buildings in Bangkok. It was designed by WOHA architects and the concept is tropical living in the sky.

What is the most luxurious holiday you’ve ever been on?

I visit Soneva Kiri in Koh Kood or Sri Panwa in Phuket a few times a year. However I also try to take more far flung travels. My most luxurious holiday was climbing Machu Picchu in Peru – it was a truly amazing experience!

And your favourite luxury that you can only get in Hong Kong?

Taking a long hot bath in my hotel room at the Mandarin Oriental. It is the best way to unwind after a long day of work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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T: +852 33620 3157  |  F: +852 3753 1811  |  thereserve@infonation-asia.com  |  Data Policy  

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